Tag Archives: WWI

Book Review: Far Side of The Sea

1 Apr

In spring 1918, Lieutenant Colin Mabry, a British soldier working with MI8 after suffering injuries on the front, receives a message by carrier pigeon. It is from Jewel Reyer, the woman he once loved and who saved his life — a woman he believed to be dead. Traveling to France to answer her urgent summons, he desperately hopes this mission will ease his guilt and restore the courage he lost on the battlefield.

Colin is stunned, however, to discover the message came from Jewel’s half sister, Johanna. Johanna, who works at a dovecote for French Army Intelligence, found Jewel’s diary and believes her sister is alive in the custody of a German agent. With spies everywhere, Colin is skeptical of Johanna, but as they travel across France and Spain, a tentative trust begins to grow between them.

When their pursuit leads them straight into the midst of a treacherous plot, danger and deception turn their search for answers into a battle for their lives.

Former bookseller-turned-author Kate Breslin enjoys life in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and family. A writer of travel articles and award-winning poetry, Kate received Christian Retailing’s 2015 Best Award for First Time Author and her debut novel, For Such A Time, was shortlisted for both the Christy and RITA awards and received the American Christian Fiction Writer’s 2015 Carol Award for Debut Novel. Kate’s fourth novel, Far Side of the Sea, released March, 2019. When she’s not writing inspirational fiction, Kate enjoys reading or taking long walks in Washington’s beautiful woodlands. She also likes traveling to new places, within the U.S. and abroad, having toured Greece, Rome, and much of Western Europe. New destinations make for fresh story ideas. Please visit her at http://www.katebreslin.com.

My Impressions:

I haven’t read many books set in WWI so my frame of reference for Kate Breslin’s newest novel, Far Side of The Sea, was very much limited. But the author’s meticulous research filled the gaps and opened my imagination to the turbulent time. Set in England, France, and Spain, this romantic historical novel is all about spies! With agents and double agents, the main characters (and the reader) don’t know whom to trust. It is an adventure back to a time of romance, danger, and courage. Recommended.

The two main characters, Colin and Johanna, struggle with the circumstances life has handed them. Colin’s war wounds are both physical and emotional, and Johanna’s past impacts her present identity. I loved how the two together learned to face their demons, as they banded together to search for Johanna’s sister and father. Their romance begins tentatively, yet strengthens as they face adversity. The historical setting is very interesting, and I found myself saying I didn’t know that! over and over. This book sent me to Google for info on carrier pigeons and Mata Hari, two fascinating rabbit trails. The book certainly made me want to broaden my scant knowledge of WWI. The book started somewhat slowly for me, but as Colin and Johanna’s search heated up, so did my reading pace. I found myself unwilling to put the book down until I found out just what was going on. As you can guess with a book heavily populated with spies there was plenty of mystery and intrigue woven throughout. Faith is also an important part of the characters’ lives and growth and was presented naturally.

Far Side of The Sea is a good choice for fans of historical romance. And if you like an adventure fraught with danger, you’ll enjoy this novel even more.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to Bethany House for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Top 10 Tuesday — Spring TBR

19 Mar

I am very excited about the books I have coming up this Spring — lots of favorite authors with new releases! There’s a little something for everyone on my list — romance, suspense, history, women’s fiction. All are new releases and have the loveliest, Spring-y covers. I hope you find a new book you can add to your Spring TBR List!

For more of what bloggers are reading in the coming months, visit That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

Top 10 Books on My Spring TBR

Driftwood Bay by Irene Hannon

After tragedy upends her world, Jeannette Mason retreats to the tiny Oregon seaside town of Hope Harbor to create a new life. Vowing to avoid emotional attachments, she focuses on running her lavender farm and tea-room — until a new neighbor with a destructive dog and a forlorn little girl invades her turf. But she needn’t worry. Dr. Logan West is too busy coping with an unexpected family, a radical lifestyle change, and an unruly pup to have any interest in his aloof and disagreeable neighbor.

Yet when both Jeanette and Logan find themselves pulled into the life of a tattered Christian family fleeing persecution in war-torn Syria, might they discover that love sometimes comes calling when it’s least expected?

Bestselling and award-winning author Irene Hannon invites readers back to the charming seaside town of Hope Harbor, where they are sure to find peace, healing, and a second chance at happiness.

The Edge of Mercy by Heidi Chiavaroli

Two women, three hundred years apart, must face the devastation of all they hold dear…

Suspecting her husband is having an affair, Sarah Rodrigues fights to appear unbroken while attempting to salvage her family. Though distracted by her own troubles, Sarah is summoned to an elderly friend’s deathbed for an unusual request—find a long-lost daughter and relay a centuries-old family story.

Determined not to fail her friend, Sarah pieces together the story of her neighbor’s ancestor, Elizabeth Baker, a young colonist forced into an unwanted betrothal but drawn to a man forbidden by society.

While Sarah’s family teeters on the edge of collapse, her world is further shaken by the interest of a caring doctor and a terrible accident that threatens a life more precious than her own.

Inspired by the unconditional love she uncovers in Elizabeth’s story, Sarah strives to forgive those who’ve wounded her soul. But when light shines on the dark secrets of her neighbor’s past and the full extent of her husband’s sins, will looking to a power greater than herself rekindle lost hope?

The Far Side of The Sea by Kate Breslin

In spring 1918, Lieutenant Colin Mabry, a British soldier working with MI8 after suffering injuries on the front, receives a message by carrier pigeon. It is from Jewel Reyer, the woman he once loved and who saved his life–a woman he believed to be dead. Traveling to France to answer her urgent summons, he desperately hopes this mission will ease his guilt and restore the courage he lost on the battlefield.

Colin is stunned, however, to discover the message came from Jewel’s half sister, Johanna. Johanna, who works at a dovecote for French Army Intelligence, found Jewel’s diary and believes her sister is alive in the custody of a German agent. With spies everywhere, Colin is skeptical of Johanna, but as they travel across France and Spain, a tentative trust begins to grow between them.

Glory Road by Lauren K. Denton

Nearly a decade after her husband’s affair drove her back home to South Alabama, Jessie McBride has the stable life she wants — operating her garden shop, Twig, next door to her house on Glory Road, and keeping up with her teenage daughter and spunky mother. But the unexpected arrival of two men makes Jessie question whether she’s really happy with the status quo.

When handsome, wealthy businessman Sumner Tate asks her to arrange flowers for his daughter’s lavish wedding, Jessie finds herself drawn to his continued attention. Then Ben Bradley, her lingering what-could-have-been from high school, moves back to the red dirt road, and she feels her heart pulled in directions she never expected.

Meanwhile, Jessie’s fourteen-year-old daughter, Evan, is approaching the start of high school and navigating a new world of emotions — particularly as they relate to the cute new guy who’s moved in just down the road. At the same time, Jessie’s mother, Gus, is suffering increasingly frequent memory lapses and faces a frightening, uncertain future.

In one summer, everything will change. But for these three strong Southern women, the roots they’ve planted on Glory Road will give life to the adventures waiting just around the curve.

The Governess of Penwythe Hall by Sarah A. Ladd

Cornwall, England, 1811

Blamed for her husband’s death, Cordelia Greythorne fled Cornwall and accepted a governess position to begin a new life. Years later her employer’s unexpected death and his last request to watch over his five children force her to reevaluate. She can’t abandon the children now that they’ve lost both parents, but their new guardian lives at the timeworn Penwythe Hall . . . back on the Cornish coast she tries desperately to forget.

Jac Trethewey is determined to revive Penwythe Hall’s once-flourishing apple orchards, and he’ll stop at nothing to see his struggling estate profitable again. He hasn’t heard from his brother in years, so when his nieces, nephews, and their governess arrive unannounced at Penwythe Hall, he battles both grief of this brother’s death and bewilderment over this sudden responsibility. Jac’s priorities shift as the children take up residence in the ancient halls, but their secretive governess — and the mystery shrouding her past — proves to be a disruption to his carefully laid plans.

Rich with family secrets, lingering danger, and the captivating allure of new love, this first book in the Cornwall Novels series introduces us to the Twethewey family and their search for peace, justice, and love on the Cornish coast.

The Memory House by Rachel Hauck

When Beck Holiday lost her father in the North Tower on 9/11, she also lost her memories of him. Eighteen years later, she’s a tough New York City cop burdened with a damaging secret, suspended for misconduct, and struggling to get her life in order. Meanwhile a mysterious letter arrives informing her she’s inherited a house along Florida’s northern coast, and what she discovers there will change her life forever. Matters of the heart only become more complicated when she runs into handsome Bruno Endicott, a driven sports agent who fondly recalls the connection they shared as teenagers. But Beck doesn’t remember that, either.

Decades earlier, widow Everleigh Applegate lives a steady, uneventful life with her widowed mother after a tornado ripped through Waco, Texas, and destroyed her new, young married life. When she runs into old high school friend Don Callahan, she begins to yearn for change. Yet no matter how much she longs to love again, she is hindered by a secret she can never share.

Fifty years separate the women but through the power of love and miracle of faith, they each find healing in a beautiful Victorian known affectionately as The Memory House. 

Moments We Forget by Beth Vogt

Jillian Thatcher has spent most of her life playing the family peacemaker, caught in the middle between her driven, talented older sister and her younger, spotlight-stealing twin sisters. Then on the night of her engagement party, a cancer diagnosis threatens to once again steal her chance to shine.

Now, Jillian’s on the road to recovery after finally finishing chemo and radiation, but residual effects of the treatment keep her from reclaiming her life as she’d hoped. And just when her dreams might be falling into place, a life-altering revelation from her husband sends her reeling again.

Will Jillian ever achieve her own dreams, or will she always be “just Jillian,” the less-than Thatcher sister? Can she count on her sisters as she tries to step into a stronger place, or are they stuck in their childhood roles forever?

No Ocean Too Wide by Carrie Turansky

Between the years of 1869 to 1939 more than 100,000 poor British children were sent across the ocean to Canada with the promise of a better life. Those who took them in to work as farm laborers or household servants were told they were orphans — but was that the truth?

After the tragic loss of their father, the McAlister family is living at the edge of the poorhouse in London in 1908, leaving their mother to scrape by for her three younger children, while oldest daughter, Laura, works on a large estate more than an hour away. When Edna McAlister falls gravely ill and is hospitalized, twins Katie and Garth and eight-year-old Grace are forced into an orphans’ home before Laura is notified about her family’s unfortunate turn of events in London. With hundreds of British children sent on ships to Canada, whether truly orphans or not, Laura knows she must act quickly. But finding her siblings and taking care of her family may cost her everything.

Andrew Fraser, a wealthy young British lawyer and heir to the estate where Laura is in service, discovers that this common practice of finding new homes for penniless children might not be all that it seems. Together Laura and Andrew form an unlikely partnership. Will they arrive in time? Will their friendship blossom into something more?

Inspired by true events, this moving novel follows Laura as she seeks to reunite her family and her siblings who, in their darkest hours, must cling to the words from Isaiah: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God”.

The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin

Numbed by grief and harboring shameful secrets, Lt. Adler Paxton ships to England with the US 357th Fighter Group in 1943. Determined to become an ace pilot, Adler battles the German Luftwaffe in treacherous dogfights in the skies over France as the Allies struggle for control of the air before the D-day invasion.

Violet Lindstrom wanted to be a missionary, but for now she serves in the American Red Cross, where she arranges entertainment for the men of the 357th in the Aeroclub on base and sets up programs for local children. Drawn to the mysterious Adler, she enlists his help with her work and urges him to reconnect with his family after a long estrangement.

Despite himself, Adler finds his defenses crumbling when it comes to Violet. But D-day draws near. And secrets can’t stay buried forever.

Bestselling author Sarah Sundin returns readers to the shores of Normandy, this time in the air, as the second Paxton brother prepares to face the past — and the most fearsome battle of his life.

When He Found Me by Victoria Bylin

Once a strong Christian, third baseman Shane Riley lost his faith the night he injured his knee in a freak car accident. Determined to return to professional baseball and to find the sister he treated badly, Shane retreats to Refuge, Wyoming. There he meets Melissa June “MJ” Townsend, a single mom battling the virus that causes cervical cancer.

MJ wants nothing to do with the handsome athlete — no doubt a womanizer considering the stories in the news. But when a mistake results in Shane renting her garage apartment, they become friends. That friendship blossoms into something deep and pure, leaving MJ with a painful secret to tell. Even more complicated, she discovers an unexpected tie to Shane’s missing sister — a wounded woman who wants nothing to do with the perfect brother who scorned her.

 

What are you reading this Spring?

 

 

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Red, White, and Blue Books!

3 Jul

Happy Top 10 Tuesday — Colors of America! What a better way to celebrate the 4th of July than with a bevy of red, white, and blue books — all with a connection to America’s history. Featuring the settling of a new nation, wars, Civil Rights, etc., these novels connect readers with pivotal times in our nation. I hope you find a new-to-you book to enjoy this holiday week!

 

For more patriotic offerings, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

Top Red, White, And Blue Books!

 

The Mayflower Bride by Kimberly Woodhouse

Freedom’s Ring by Heidi Chiavaroli

Widow of Gettysburg by Jocelyn Green

 

The Pelican Bride by Beth White

As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner

Snapshot by Lis Wiehl

 

The Love Letter by Rachel Hauck

A Refuge Assured by Jocelyn Green

The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin

 

What are some of your favorite red, white, and blue books?

 

Book Review: The Lost Garden

22 Jul

51qMnO66npL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Present and past residents of a countryside English vicarage search for love.

Marin Ellis is in search of a new start after her father and his second wife die in a car accident leaving her the guardian of her fifteen-year-old half-sister, Rebecca. They choose the picturesque village of Goswell on the Cumbrian coast and settle into Bower House, the former vicarage, on the edge of the church property. When a door to a walled garden captures Rebecca’s interest, Marin becomes determined to open it and discover what is hidden beneath the bramble inside. She enlists the help of local gardener Joss Fowler, and together the three of them begin to uncover the garden’s secrets.

In 1919, nineteen-year-old Eleanor Sanderson, daughter of Goswell’s vicar, is grieving the loss of her beloved brother Walter, who was killed just days before the Armistice was signed. Eleanor retreats into herself and her father starts to notice how unhappy she is. As spring arrives, he decides to hire someone to make a garden for Eleanor, and draw her out of―or at least distract her from―her grief and sorrow. Jack Taylor is in his early twenties, a Yorkshire man who has been doing odd jobs in the village, and when Eleanor’s father hires him to work on the vicarage gardens, a surprising―and unsuitable―friendship unfolds.

 

291535719After spending three years as a diehard New Yorker, Katharine Swartz now lives in the Lake District with her husband, an Anglican minister, their five children, and a Golden Retriever. She enjoys such novel things as long country walks and chatting with people in the street, and her children love the freedom of village life—although she often has to ring four or five people to figure out where they’ve gone off to!

She writes women’s fiction as well as contemporary romance for Mills & Boon Modern under the name Kate Hewitt, and whatever the genre she enjoys delivering a compelling and intensely emotional story.

 

My Impressions:

Katharine Swartz takes her readers back to the small Cumbrian village of Goswell in her novel The Lost Garden. Contemporary and historical story lines intersect in this tale of love, grief and forgiveness. This novel is very British and will appeal to the Anglophile reader.

Marin finds herself the guardian of her 15-year old sister following the deaths of her father and step-mother. Awkward with relationships, Marin bravely faces making a home and life for Rebecca. After moving to Cumbria, Marin finds herself intrigued with a walled garden at the back of her property. She becomes determined to discover the secrets it and a photograph taken almost 100 years previous hold. Eleanor is the subject of the photograph, and her story of lost innocence and enduring love captures Marin and the reader’s imaginations.

Swartz’s characters are very realistic and relatable. Their hopes and fears, flaws and triumphs are well-written. She also does a great job making the setting an important part of the story. As Marin clears away the brambles that have overtaken the walled garden, suppressed emotions are exposed, griefs are revealed and forgiveness is offered. The grief expressed is more of what could have been rather than what has actually been lost — regrets over lost opportunities. The freedom found in taking responsibility is also expressed.

A rather quiet novel — there isn’t a lot of action — The Lost Garden will make the reader think. And in my case, want to hop on a plane and head to the windy coast of Cumbria!

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE

(I received this book courtesy of Lion Hudson and Kregel. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)